One of my favorite childhood possessions to this day is a version of a tic, tac, toe game that she created which combined trivia questions that she wrote with ordinary tic, tac, toe. Grandma McCane believed that everything came with hard work, and so even with tic, tac, toe, you had to answer the question before you could get the opportunity to place an X or O on the board. The questions were basic things that she believed every child should know, literary and Bible references, basic science and history principles, that sort of thing. It's because of her that I can finish nearly any nursery rhyme with the correct words, figure out sale percentages with ease, and have a love for reading. She invested in my life, one Sunday afternoon at a time.
Because my Grandmother could be a little harsh with her words, my mom did not usually accompany us for our Sunday visits. It was sort of best for everyone if their relationship was contained to graduations and a very occasional major holiday. It's likely not ideal, but it worked well for our family. My mom used her Sunday afternoon to sew and garden while my dad spent Sunday after Sunday visiting his mama. It was their best attempt at a win/win.
In many ways, I suppose our Sunday visits were pretty mundane. My dad usually spent some time doing chores that my grandmother needed help with, much of that time was in the garden. After my grandfather died of a heart attack in my preschool years, they began to lease out much of the acreage for livestock and tobacco. However, they still kept a large vegetable garden behind the house, far more than my grandmother and her family could eat. I think it was what they knew and loved and it just made sense. It was something they shared. Every Sunday during the growing season we would leave with an enormous bundle of produce, which we would eat on all week long, until we would return to gather another. To this day, I can't picture her house without being able to taste the buttery, sweet corn in my mouth.
At the end of our visits, we generally shared a meal. My grandmother was a terrible cook. Well, maybe not terrible, but definitely not gifted. That didn't stop us from gathering around her table and eating the fruit of her labor, much of it from the garden. Then we would drive the hour home to face another week of routine.
I could go on and on with memories of my grandmother...her delicious homemade grape juice, my annual summer visits which stretched from one Sunday to the next, the smell of the tobacco barn, the sunset visits on her porch swing, and Little Bit, the chicken chasing farm dog that graced her front porch. But, in all of those memories, I have very few distinct memories of specific events. Twice, I remember my dad taking my grandmother off of the farm to do something together. Once we went to the big city of Maysville to buy a new blue Ford tractor. Another time I remember us heading off to the annual Germantown fair. Other than that, it was Sunday after ordinary Sunday, all of which bleed together in one beautiful picture of family and duty and routine.
So today, in the pattern that my daddy modeled for me, I've come to the USA for an ordinary little visit. I write this from the extra bedroom of my parent's home, where I'll be spending the next two weeks. After lots of prayer and prompting by the Holy Spirit, Ryan and I made the decision that we would spend a little money and rearrange our personal family rhythms long enough for me to pay a visit to my daddy...just because. He's not sick or in failing health. He's not in trouble. His not on the verge of some major life change. He didn't beg me to come. In fact, he was rather surprised when I asked him if he was up for a visitor. But, I honestly have no ulterior motive other than just to pay my daddy a visit.
We don't have anything spectacular planned for my time here. Last night we ate grilled cheese together while watching Wheel of Fortune. Today, we're planning to go through his coupon stockpile stash and I'll pick out what I want to carry back with me when I leave in a couple of weeks. Then I'll make a list of what's left to buy. After that, he'll insist I go through his coupons and see which ones I can use. This weekend, we'll cheer for the best of what's left in the Final Four. Nothing extraordinary, just some ordinary moments spent together.
My daddy's pretty old-school. There are lots of things about how we see the world that vary greatly. We don't always find a ton of common topics to dialogue about and our passions and pursuits are vastly different, but we still enjoy visiting. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that he loves me and he has always been faithful to demonstrate that in his own way. He is 77 now, and he is as active and healthy as I could hope for him to be. I believe he could live another decade or two and I would love that. But, there are no guarantees and I want to have no regrets about the choices I have made concerning my dad and our relationship. Two years is a long time to go without a visit...especially with a man who refuses to enter the electronic age, despite my best efforts to tutor him in e-mail and Skype! Without my mom here to be another set of eyes and ears in his world, I simply wanted to come and tarry for a bit. This is simply because I understand that relationships aren't always built on extraordinary events. Often they come one ordinary moment at a time. That's why I'm here... just because.
Pa and his Campbell grands